Saudi king dismisses top officials as it says missing journalist was killed at consulate

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reportedly dismissed a key royal adviser and a senior intelligence official the same day the country’s state-run media admitted that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

King Salman ordered for Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to be removed, according to the state-run Ikhbariya television, which was reported by Bloomberg News.

{mosads}The news came as reports surfaced that the Saudis said that Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist, died after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. 

The Saudi government stated that 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested and are being interrogated in connection with the case, according to a press release translated by The New York Times.

A public prosecutor has said that Khashoggi died after a fight broke out in the consulate. 

An order has also been issued to remove Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri from his position as the deputy of the intelligence services, according to an announcement on Saudi state TV reported by CNN.

Saudi Arabia has faced mounting scrutiny over its connection to the dissident journalist’s disappearance. Turkish authorities have said they possess audio recordings proving Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives within the consulate.

The reports led many bipartisan U.S. lawmakers to vow Congress would take action against the Saudis in response.

President Trump initially skirted placing blame on Saudi Arabia, saying earlier this week that Khashoggi may have been killed by “rogue killers.”

But he said on Thursday that it “certainly” looked like Khashoggi was killed after entering the consulate.

After continually denying involvement, Saudi Arabia released a statement on Friday saying that it “expresses deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place in this case.”

“The United States acknowledges the announcement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that its investigation into the fate of Jamal Khashoggi is progressing and that it has taken action against the suspects it has identified thus far,” the White House later said in its own statement.

“We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process. We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends.”

— Updated 7:22 p.m.

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